This time, the colors were limited to five, and 12 of each color were built. Of those 60, only 29 were converted to race trim. Two backup cars were converted in case a racer might have a sudden, desperate need for a fresh car. Through the season, nobody did, which stands as a testament to the Corvette's tough build quality. At the season's end, the red No. 3 car, driven by Bill Cooper, was the overall winner. The Miller family owns that one too. It would be the last year for the Corvette Challenge.
"My dad absolutely adored the Corvette Challenge series," says Lance. "Every single race had a story. He knew a lot of the drivers, and it's fun to watch racing when you know people."
Chip had his eye on the black backup car that always showed up at the races, but was never raced. In October 1989, at the last race of the season in St. Petersburg, Florida, Chip bought it from John Powell. It is the last of the Challenge cars to be built. The analog odometer on the otherwise digital dash showed only 100 miles.
Chip kept a book of notes about each of his cars. The following entry says a lot about the man: "The day the car was delivered to the Carlisle Fairgrounds, Lance was there with me in preparation for a father/son surfing trip. I drove him around the fairgrounds at speed and then changed seats before we parked it. He fell in love. In love with this car, in love with high-performance cars, in love with race cars, in love with fast driving. It was one of the greatest days of my life! We agreed to share the car from that point on."
The grins, the rumble of the exhaust, the thrill of the power, the way the world looks as it goes rushing by on the other side of the windshield, the introduction to how fun driving a fast car can be-it was all burned deep into Lance's memory.
In 1990, they wanted to take the car to Bloomington for a shot at Gold Certification, but all the judging slots were full. It would have to wait until the next year.
In 1991, Chip and Lance again set out for Bloomington, and this time they came back with a Gold Certification.
There are 25 other Corvettes in the Miller collection, and it continues to grow, but this one is Lance's all-time favorite. Not a bad resume for a backup car.
Corvette Challenge Race Schedule 1988-1989
Lance has put together a well-done web site for the Corvette Challenge, www.showyourcorvette.com.